Pakistan raised issue of respecting Aafia Siddiqui's 'human and legal rights' with US: FO

Updated November 07, 2018

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A file photo of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
A file photo of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

The government has raised the issue of "respecting the human and legal rights" of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with the United States, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Wednesday.

Dr Aafia, who was convicted in 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault of US personnel, is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. It is a US federal prison for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs.

The matter regarding her rights was raised during a meeting held between Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and Pakistani officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

"[The] US side has promised to look into our request," FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.

According to the spokesman, the Pakistani government has been raising Dr Aafia's issue with US authorities on a regular basis.

The Pakistani consul general in Houston pays consular visits to the imprisoned neuroscientist periodically to inquire about her well-being and conveys her messages to her family, if any, the spokesperson added.

According to a letter written by a foreign ministry official, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the Pakistani consul general had last visited Dr Aafia on October 9, 2018. Dr Aafia during the meeting requested the consul general to convey a message to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“I want to get out of prison, my imprisonment in the US is illegal as I was kidnapped and taken to the US," Dr Aafia said in her message, according to the FO.

"Imran Khan had supported me in the past also. I have always considered him as one of my biggest heroes and wish to see him as the Khalifa of all Muslims. He should be careful of the munafiq around him.

"All those who criticise Imran Khan for his past mistakes should stop doing that because under Islamic law he is innocent. Even the Sahaba with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had made mistakes in their lives and when they embraced Islam their past mistakes were forgiven and they became innocent. It is the same with Imran Khan. He had once stated himself that he came to learn about Islam much later in his life. If anyone has doubts on this, I can debate about this.”

The FO spokesman also announced that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will soon meet Aafia's sister, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, on her request in Islamabad.

On September 23, 2010, a court in New York had sentenced Dr Aafia, an MIT graduate, to 86 years in prison.

Her sympathisers claim that she was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to intelligence agencies who then transferred her into US custody. Both US and Pakistani officials, however, say that she was arrested in Afghanistan.

Dr Aafia allegedly went missing for five years before she was discovered in Afghanistan. It is said that she snatched a gun during interrogation in Ghazni and tried to shoot a US soldier. She has also been accused of working for Al Qaeda.